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half marathon

half marathon training schedule

How to build towards your first half marathon


Whether you looking for an half marathon training plan or how to train for a half marathon. Setting up a half marathon training schedule isn’t as difficult as people may think.

For the average beginner looking to run a half marathon, the amount time spent running plays a huge factor in your training. Numerous research has shown that muscle fatigue increases significantly post half marathon and can somewhat remain elevated for more than 24hrs post-event. To put this simply, two plus hours of running loads a tremendous amount of stress on the leg muscles.

Setting up your half marathon training schedule, and the specific demands of the event mean it’s necessary for newbie runners to keep their long-run volumes reasonably high.

The half marathon physiological demands are similar to that of the 10km distance. The half marathon distance is only 2 percentage anaerobic and 98% aerobic. Meaning more experience runners must train their threshold to be able to clear lactic acid, for which they then are able to reconvert it back into useable energy.


Building your half marathon training schedule

It’s important that the training you plan is built in a way that prepares the body for the longer runs and harder workouts, before looking at targeting the specific demands of the distance before the last 4-6 weeks of specific training.


Putting together a half marathon training plan

Foundation Phase

If we look towards a 12 week half marathon schedule, these are designed in a way that will slowly increase your weekly mileage and the volume of your most important workouts. This allows the body to handle the longer and harder workouts in this phase of training.

During the Foundation Phase the workouts should gradually increase to provide a strong base of aerobic mileage, but during this phase of training, it will also help strengthen ligaments, tendons, and muscles, allowing the body to handle more load of training.

The weekly mileage and your long run should gradually increase during these weeks. By working on a blend of V02max, aerobic and anaerobic type workouts will help target all of your energy systems. This allows simultaneously train each of the systems to the point where you will never become to weak in one area. But remember to slowly increase the volume of these specific sessions.

While the above type of sessions can be added into the first 5 weeks training cycle, remember the initial goal of this phase is to lay a solid foundation, before focusing on the specific demands of the half marathon distance if you’re a beginner.



The key workouts that shouldn´t be forgotten during this phase of training are:

15-25sec sprints based on an 85-95% perceived effort of your top speed. Typically we perform strideouts after easy runs or during the warm-up of key workouts.


Strideouts help develop your running mechanics and help with speed maintenance.

Your easy and long runs should be based much slower than your goal half marathon race pace. The purpose of these workouts is to recover from your harder or longer sessions while increasing your aerobic volume.

A tempo run can be implemented during this phase, and personally, I use this a lot with my athletes. This type of workout is a sustained effort at or slightly below your threshold pace. These tempo runs help improve the body’s ability to clear lactate.

To learn more about specific workouts of this training please contact us


The specific phase of half marathon training

Specific means training to be race specific and prepare the body to handle the physiological demands of the half marathon. Tailoring the workouts to match the exact demands of the event will help achieve your peak potential.
The workouts during this period with an increase in intensity each week. Remaining focused on specific workouts which are aimed at developing your half marathon fitness. During this phase typically your overall mileage won’t increase as it has done during the foundation phase.

Focusing on race-specific workouts and long runs while the recovery runs hile help facilitate recovery.


Key Workouts

tempo runs: While we have used this type of workout during the foundation phase, a ramping tempo or cutdown run, is to increase your effort as the body becomes increasingly fatigued, similar to that of the midpoint of the half marathon. Focusing on every mile or kilometer is slightly faster than the next, with the last mile or kilometer being your fastest.

Long runs: while in the foundation phase of the training we had been focusing on slow long runs, during this phase of training we can add in surges. Which means we can inject periods of speed into a long run. Surges can help increase the overall quality and pace during of your long run.
This will help the body’s ability to run fast while fatigued and help develop your race specific skills and speed.

To learn more about specific workouts of this training please contact us


Taper Phase

While the taper period can depend on numerous factors of how the body recovers, an adaption of training and response to change in volume. Typically anywhere from a 5-10day taper is enough for a half marathon training schedule. The last 5-10days of the schedule makes up the taper phase. While easy mileage doesn’t have to drop significantly until the final few days pre-race, the total volume and load of the body should drop as we get closer to the event.


Key workouts

Pre-race effort: in the final few key sessions heading into the race, your goal is to stimulate your central nervous system which by adding in some speed work to keep leg speed and build confidence without the added fatigue of harder sessions.

To learn more about specific workouts of this training please contact us